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Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Taipei Urban Redevelopment Laws and Issues

http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNe...0024&Type=aTOD

Talk of the Day -- Bulldozing row snowballs
2012/04/01 22:38:14

The bulldozing of the Wang family homes as part of a controversial urban renewal project in Shilin District in Taipei has snowballed, causing Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin to cancel his trip to the Boao Forum in southern China.

The Wangs, supported by students and other protesters, returned to their razed homes Saturday to claim legal ownership of the property, demanding that developers stop construction work and that Hau step down to take responsibility.

Members of a victims coalition, who claimed they have been wronged by the Urban Renewal Act, urged the central government to take over the Shilin case and help the Wang family rebuild their homes at the site.

The following are excerpts of reports by major Taiwanese newspapers on the issue:

China Times:

With more than 300 students and civilian protesters behind him, Wang Kuang-shu, who represents the Wang family, said he and his family members will not change their position of protecting their ancestral homes.

Wang said he was especially frustrated by the city government's new policy of "holding off razing down houses in other projects" after tearing down his family's homes.

When the Wangs and supporters "returned" to the Wangs' address, they could only stand on a heap of debris. Wang Lee Shu-mei, the family's eldest daughter-in-law, cried "I want my home back!"

Wang Yang Mei-yu, the family's matriarch who is in her 80s, was shocked by the sight of the home in which she had lived for over 60 years reduced to a pile of rubble.

Supporting the Wang family were, among others, professor Shih Chi-sheng of Soochow University and entertainment industry figure Ou-yang Ching.

Shih said all citizens should be "members of the Wang family" and keep protesting until "someone (in the government) comes out to shoulder the responsibility."

Ou-yang said reviving old communities was supposed to be an "all- pleasing business" that had now turned into the unfortunate result of wiping old history off the map.

Representatives of the Urban Renewal Project Victims Coalition called on the Taipei government to immediately stop all controversial projects and allow citizens to participate in the process of proposing amendments to the existing law.

They said they would "rent" the Wang family site and use it as a "bastion" for a long-term fight against the government's "bullying tactics."

Lin Chung-chieh, director of the city's Urban Redevelopment Office, also expressed his frustration in a facebook post that political commentators, professors and experts only dared criticize lower-level officials charged with carrying out the law, knowing that the law is deeply flawed.

This newspaper tried to confirm that the message was in fact posted by Lin but could not reach him by phone.

Hau's spokesman Chang Chi-chiang said the mayor will soon meet with scholars and experts to seek their views on all aspects of the law, including the city government's role and how to settle legal disputes arising from enforcing the law.

The city has also delayed all plans to tear down "remnant houses" in other controversial renewal projects -- a duty that local governments are obligated to perform under existing law.

Chang said the urgency of this issue was the reason behind Hau's decision not to go to Boao in Hainan, southern China -- not so-called pressure from the central government.

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan, who has promised to produce a draft amendment to the current law within six months, said that before the law is amended, it must remain in force, as more than 1,000 urban renewal projects are in progress across the country.

"What we must recognize is that the Shilin case must not be repeated," Lee said.

He urged local governments to "make their own judgments" based on the Shilin experience.

He did point out that people have different interpretations of what constitutes "public interest," though he is also aware that the relevant provisions in the law must be "more clearly stipulated."

Wang Kuang-hsiang, who represents the nation's developers, said this was a regrettable development as all urban renewal projects will be put on hold while the law is being reviewed.

He predicted that the delay in implementing existing, approved projects will have an impact on the domestic housing market and overall economic growth. (April 1, 2012)

The Liberty Times:

Wang Kuang-shu, the owner of the bulldozed house, thanked all those who have given his family support and said the only thing the government can do to remedy the situation is to "build a house on the site that is identical to the old one."

In the face of calls for Mayor Hau to step down, his spokesman, Chang Chi-chiang, said the city government would reflect on its actions before responding to criticisms from all sides.

The incident has at least forced the city government to suspend two cases in which it was asked to tear down structures in controversial renewal projects.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai said his party has drafted an amendment that would require the government to "zone out" households that refuse to join urban revival projects.

Under the DPP proposal, Chen added, developers will not have the legal power to sell planned housing units before the builders obtain consent from all residents whose property is to be affected.

Chang Chin-oh, a National Chengchi University professor, suggested that NGOs be encouraged to participate in mapping out such projects and that an alternative dispute resolution mechanism be adopted outside the judicial system so people refusing to be included in the proposed projects can have a chance to seek remedy.

To avoid a repeat of the Shilin development controversy, Chang proposed raising the ratio of consenting participants to initiate a renewal project to 50 percent from the current 10 percent of all affected households.

A confirmation mechanism should also be set up for house or land owners who have not participated in public hearings. Such a mechanism would make sure, in writing, that they have been informed of the plan to rebuild the community and that, if they still refused to join in, a legal channel would be provided for them to air grievances, he added.

Members of NGOs authorized to participate in the urban renewal process should include certified architects, appraisers, land administrators and urban planners, Chang said.

Under the revised law, builders can only start to sell the housing units after all existing houses in the "zone" have been razed and razing can only begin after a court rules in favor of doing so, Chang said. (April 1, 2012)

United Daily News:

Sixteen sociology professors from various universities and Academia Sinica issued a joint statement denouncing the "state violence" used to enforce an unjust law and made three proposals to remedy the situation.

The three proposals put forth by Hsiao Hsin-huang, Ho Ming-hsiu and 14 others were: thoroughly review the Urban Renewal Act, realize housing justice and abolish the rules governing floor area ratio that is related to building density and the greening ratio.

Professor Tai Po-fen of Fu Jen Catholic University, one of the 16, said the law should not be used by developers as "bulldozing" tools, even though under the law in its existing form, business groups aided by the government are authorized to "rob the people of their houses."

Any residential area of 500 square meters can be used to initiate a renewal project, with two-thirds of the owners having the power to tear down all housing units in the planned zone, according to Tai.

Wang Hong-jen, another sociologist who put his name on the joint statement, said the Shilin case indicated that builders were making huge profits at the expense of ordinary citizens whose lifetime investment in their homes could be rendered worthless.

When the capitalists build luxury homes for sale from a prime site, Wang said, they are creating serious "class issues" that only aggravate social injustice.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said that if a similar case had happened in her southern Taiwan metropolis, she would have handled it with "greater caution."

Such factors as culture, history and "life memories" should be considered when carrying out urban renewal projects, Chen said, noting that the law sometimes has not been designed to account for all such aspects and so "specific exceptions" should be allowed. (April 1, 2012)

(By S.C. Chang)
Enditem/ls

http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNe...0048&Type=aTOD

Talk of the Day -- Urban Renewal Act needs update
2012/03/29 23:26:01





The forced demolition of two houses in Taipei City's Shihlin District on Wednesday has drawn public concern about whether the action has infringed upon people's constitutionally protected property rights and freedom of habitation.

The controversial case has also sparked calls for an urgent review of the existing Urban Renewal Act, especially Article 36 that allows a renewal project to be launched with the consent of more than 10 percent of the owners of the areas in question.

The Shihlin case followed a similar one in June 2010 when the city government forced demolition of a house on Taipei's Jingwen Street after three failed attempts to obtain the homeowner's consent to a redevelopment project.

The following are excerpts from a special report in the Thursday edition of the United Evening News on contentious urban rejuvenation issues:

Lin Chung-chieh, director of the Taipei city government's Urban Redevelopment Office, said the Shihlin project has drawn flaks mainly because the land developer had begun housing presale before conclusion of land acquisition negotiations.

Under the current housing construction regulations, builders can begun housing sales upon acquiring construction licenses.

The land developer was granted construction license for the Shihlin redevelopment plan, better known as "Wenlin Yuan" project, in 2009.

"We will review these two laws to see whether they contain mutually contradictory provisions," Lin said, adding that once his office finalize the review, it will ask the central government to take necessary steps if it finds any necessary updates or improvements to the existing laws or administrative procedures.

Another notable contentious point involved in the "Wenlin Yuan" project was that why the land of the Wang family was included in the plan without their prior consent.

Lin said his office will make further reviews to determine whether any flaws were involved in the process.

Chang Chin-oh, a National Chengchi University land administration professor, said Article 36 of the Urban Renewal Act should not become a land developers' profiteering tool.

"While the article should not be canceled, it needs to be updated to tighten restrictions on forced demolition," Chang said.

In his view, an urban redevelopment project could lead nowhere if a land developer is required to obtain prior consent of all of homeowners.

But he noted that the current 10-percent ratio is too generous for land developers.

"The percentage should be raised to require land developers to acquire the consent of more residents or homeowners with interests in the redevelopment project," he added.

Moreover, Chang said the government should launch education projects to help the public better understand the need for urban renewal and redevelopment.

The government should also craft a comprehensive mechanism to facilitate dialogue and consultations between homeowners and land developers, Chang urged. (March 29, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)
enditem
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Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 10:10 AM
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http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/n...mier-urges.htm

Premier urges reform of redevelopment laws
The China Post--Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) told the media yesterday that he last year ordered the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) to re-examine the urban redevelopment regulations, when asked to comment on the eviction of the Wang family on Wednesday. The government has to achieve the goal of redevelopment, but the rights of our citizens should not be sacrificed, stated Chen.


The urban redevelopment regulations may be flawed or incomplete, but they have been amended several times since 1998, the premier said.

When developers discovered that redevelopment projects can be profitable, they invested a huge amount of time and money to study the law and the process. Thus, developers know much more about redevelopment regulations than residents, putting homeowners at a disadvantage, stated Chen.

The Taipei City Government had no choice but to enforce the eviction since the verdict of the highest administrative court was in favor of Leyoung (樂揚建設), the developer, Chen said.

Legislators yesterday passed a resolution demanding that the MOI send a draft of the amendments to the urban redevelopment regulations to the Legislative Yuan in six months.

Tough Decision: Hau

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) stated yesterday that it was a tough decision to enforce the demolition. The Taipei City Government had been trying to reach a consensus between the Wang family and Leyoung but failed, he said.

Eighteen meetings were held between the Wang family and Leyoung but no agreement was reached, said Hau.

Leyoung filed the case with the Taipei City Government more than two years ago and the government hoped the case could be solved via negotiations, according to Hau. Government officials have been working under tremendous pressure, he said.

The verdict of the highest administrative court came last August, and the Taipei City Government had no choice but to take action, Hau said.

The Taipei Urban Redevelopment Ordinance (台北都市更新自治條例) prescribed that 90 percent of residents — 10 percent higher than other cities' urban redevelopment regulations — need to agree for the Taipei City Government to enforce the demolition, stated Hau.

The Taipei City Urban Development Office was established last year to reduce the disparity of information between developers and residents to protect the rights of homeowners, according to Hau.

Hau said he will send the report of the Wang case to the MOI and has asked the ministry to hold meetings of experts to discuss revising urban redevelopment regulations.

Demonstrator Threatened to Cut Himself

One demonstrator, surnamed Wang, went to the demolition site with a knife yesterday, claiming that he wanted to cut himself. Wang stated that he was also a victim of the urban redevelopment regulations. He was later taken to a police station for questioning.



http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/n...ipei-halts.htm

Taipei halts two redevelopment projects amid public discontent
The China Post news staff--Taipei has jammed the brakes on two urban redevelopment projects requiring city government assistance to evict residents after the forced demolition of a family home in another case last week generated tremendous controversy.


Meanwhile the beleaguered Mayor Hau Lung-bin yesterday canceled a plan to attend a major economic forum in China, staying focused on damage-control efforts over the knocking down of the Wang family's home in Shilin to make way for a redevelopment project.

The city has been processing two other urban redevelopment applications by developers asking it take similar actions to that in Shilin.

But until the controversies surrounding the redevelopment law have been settled, the city will “re-study” all demolition applications, Taipei spokesman Chang Chi-chiang said.

The spokesman denied that the city has decided to suspend all urban redevelopment projects, saying each case is a unique situation and all the government can do is to continue to communicate with the residents.

He revealed that Hau chose to cancel his trip to Boao, China, in order to seek advice from experts and scholars over the redevelopment efforts.

But Deputy Mayor Ting Ting-yu will depart for Boao as scheduled, the spokesman said.

Chang said the mayor has already come up with a list of experts and scholars who have agreed to provide advice, but declined to identify any of them out of respect for their privacy.

Chang said Hau made the decision without receiving any pressure from the ruling Kuomintang, to which the mayor belongs.

Asked if the director of the city's urban redevelopment department, Lin Chung-chieh, would be sacked because of the Shilin row, Chang said the possibility was never considered.

The Wang family, accompanied by supporters, returned to the site where their home had stood three days after it was knocked down.

They broke the fences surrounding the site, and the family broke down into bitter tears when they found the home was gone. They also scuffled with police guarding the site.

Demands

Supporters demanded the city rebuild the Wangs' home on the same site, vowing that they would camp out there for a long-term fight.

Residents that have been spared the same fate as the Wang family for now because of the city's decision to suspend the demolition applications are from two communities near Taipei 101.

Some of the residents in the Yungchun and Wuxing communities said they feared for the worst when the city evicted the Wangs and knock down their home.

A family refusing to sell their second-floor apartment of a building slated for redevelopment said the developer moved in heavy machinery and tore down all stories above them.

Their building is half destructed and the developer has left all the debris around them, said Peng Lung-san, a Yungchun resident who has now become an anti-redevelopment activist.

Peng said redevelopment projects must be supported by the majority of the residents involved, but that does not mean that the minority's interests have to be sacrificed.

He said those who resist the developer's offers simply think that the project will infringe upon their rights.

The Wang family's ordeal has now turned the tide against developers.

Many developers said they thought the demolition of the Wang family home would be a demonstration of the city's determination to those who resist redevelopment, according to the United Evening News.

They have now been forced to put on hold all proposals, the paper said.

No Consensus

Lawmakers are now looking to revise the urban redevelopment law, but have yet to reach a consensus on how it should be amended.


Legislator Michael Chen from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said developers should be prevented from offering pre-sales.

In the Shilin case, the developer already sold out all units of the project before settling the row with the Wangs.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, who is also acting chairwoman of the DPP, expressed regret over what occurred in Shilin.

She said her city currently has no similar redevelopment projects, but said the existence of old communities should be respected as long as there is no immediate risk to public safety.

Vice President-elect Wu Den-yih said Mayor Hau made a correct decision to cancel his China trip in order to handle the consequences of the Shilin dispute. The city government meanwhile said it has meted out disciplinary actions for several police officers over the demolition action.

Two were penalized for trying to hamper reporters from covering the incident.

Several others were punished for making “improper comments” about the incident on Facebook.
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Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 10:14 AM
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Old Posted Apr 8, 2012, 7:24 AM
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http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../08/2003529811
Legislator seeks Urban Renewal Act probe


By Shih Hsiu-chuan / Staff reporter







Protesters at the site of the recently demolished Wang family homes in Taipei’s Shilin District yesterday hang a banner calling for a review of the case and of the controversial Urban Renewal Act.

Photo: Huang Chi-hao, Taipei Times


Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said he planned to submit a request for a constitutional interpretation by the Council of Grand Justices of a few “problematic” provisions of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例).

The initiative comes after the recent forced demolition by the Taipei City Government of two homes in Taipei City’s Shilin District (士林) owned by a family surnamed Wang (王) to make way for an urban renewal project.

The Wang family resisted moving from the homes in which they had lived for six generations, but their forced eviction was allowed to proceed because more than 90 percent of households in the area had already agreed to move.

Critics say the forcible eviction of the Wang family was a violation of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to property.

Lu said the case highlighted flaws in the Urban Renewal Act, which was initially aimed at facilitating urban renewal, but turned out to be an “incomprehensible piece of legislation.”

One of the provisions that could be unconstitutional is that it entitles developers to demarcate an area for urban renewal when they obtain the consent of a certain proportion of the owners of the private land or buildings in the area, and complete a legal procedure, Lu said.

As such, residents who oppose the project can be forced to move, which is against the Constitution, because it stipulates that freedom of residence is an essential constitutional right. The Constitution also guarantees people’s right to live, work and own property, he said.

“The Urban Renewal Act is being enacted based on the spirit of majority rule and it lacks mechanisms to protect the rights of a minority,” Lu said.

Another provision that could be unconstitutional is that the act gives local authorities the power to carry out demolition work if tenants who are against the project declined to leave their properties within a stipulated period of time, Lu said.

“The provision is in violation of fundamental human rights,” he said.

According to Lu, other flaws in the Urban Renewal Act are that developers are in control of the urban renewal system, as they can initiate urban renewal projects by organizing related public exhibitions and public hearings, and they can be granted construction licenses and also pre-sell units before all tenants agree to the development.

The problems highlighted in the Wang case showed that the provisions that allow private enterprises to initiate urban renewal projects in the name of the public good could be counter to the principle of proportionality, that is the means for legislation to strike a balance between public welfare and restrictions on individual rights, he said.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiw.../07/2003529744
Urban Renewal Act revision to focus on landowners


Staff writer, with CNA






Protecting the rights of landowners should be one of the central focuses of an upcoming overhaul of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), a move prompted by the controversy surrounding the recent forced demolition of two homes in Taipei, lawyer Tsai Chih-yang (蔡志揚) said yesterday.

Developers had “too much influence” during the drafting of earlier amendments to the law and this time revisions should focus on the rights of landowners, individuals and the government, Tsai said during a hearing held by a group of Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers.

Lawmakers were partly to blame for passing a law that was so flawed and did not include any clauses favorable to landowners, he said.

Tsai is a member of an advisory group set up earlier this week by the Taipei City Government to provide professional guidance on how the city should undertake future urban renewal projects.

The group was established in the wake of the eviction of the Wang family in the city’s Shilin District (士林) last month to clear the way for a new residential -complex, which critics have said was a violation of the family’s property rights.

The Ministry of the Interior has promised to propose a draft amendment to the Urban Renewal Act within three months to address its shortcomings.

Coalition for the Victims of Urban Renewal leader Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said the term “public interest,” which appears in Article 1 of the law, should be clearly defined and used to refer to public infrastructure.

There should be a mechanism that allows landowners to opt out of urban renewal projects when their property is not considered hazardous and the project in question does not involve public infrastructure, he said.

Urban Renewal Division head Chen Hsing-lung (陳興隆) said that the Construction and Planning Agency had so far come up with more than 20 proposed revisions to strengthen the protection of landowners’ rights.

Three public hearings will be held in the coming weeks to allow all sectors of society to express their opinions, he added.
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Old Posted Apr 18, 2012, 3:44 AM
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The issue get far beyond than you can imagine.

The first controversy is does government have right to demolish private property with this reason. Now legalisation groups and legislators are calling constitution explanation.

The second controversy is all urban renewal implementation area is set up by 10% of entire property owners in implementation area. In other word, 10% of property owners can decide entire implementation area go for redevelopment. More crucial thing is current law uses majority rule for all implementation areas and this rule is what renewal policy is based on. For example Taipei renewal policies said implementer has to get 2/3 property owners in implementation area to agree this redevelopment. It does not say when implementer change boundary of implementation area.
There is such scenario happened in Taipei that developers change the size of implementation area to achieve 2/3 margin. What developers can do to local residents is that they become that 10% of property owners in implementation area by buying the properties and make sure it pass 10% margin. Then developers can start urban redevelopment without discussion with other people.
And there is strange phenomenon that local residents never know there is redevelopment plan for their own property until government pass it and start negotiation process, and then inform residents.

The third controversy is most redevelopment projects are luxury residential building and fail what urban renewal suppose to be in its purpose. The purpose of urban renewal can be including optimise urban function and infrastructure. Current urban renewal policy is not enough to achieve these purposes.

The fourth controversy what role of government during negotiation process? The negotiation process always undertook by developers. There is problem that the information is not transparent and there is unbalance information between residents and developers. Under current policies, there is no guarantee all the rights of property owners will not broken. There is no guarantee that developers will make fair deal with residents. The law does not protect locals, but make favour for developers.

The fifth controversy, there is no comprehensive law protect property owners from the threats of crime undertaking by developers themselves.


Taiwanese need new urban renewal policies and it needs more than one policies to undertake different urban redevelopment project. Current policies is not comprehensive and it has been talked for years. Government never act. They makes it happen.

Based on the information I learn, there are several changing need to be made in new urban renewal policy.
All information has to share and pass through all stakeholders, including developers, all residents, and government authorities.
Urban renewal commitment must be established before negotiation process and need to approve by government. It will be main organisation in negotiation.
Government must inform and discuss with residents when government try to set up implementation areas.
Government and developers have to get confirmation of consents or agreements (can be agree to participate or don’t want to participate) from all residents in implementation area.
Government should set up low-interest urban renewal loan for long-term redevelopment project.
Government has burden to take larger role in urban renewal for public demand. It should set up new evaluation criterion and margin for redevelopment propose. It should review all current urban plan.
Central government needs to introduce different urban renewal policies for other specific type of urban redevelopment, in order to maintain and enhance urban functions and other public demand, such as heritage conservation.
The primary problem for current urban renewal policy is that it cannot handle different values and different needs in urban renewal in Taipei.
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Old Posted Aug 3, 2012, 1:32 PM
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Old Posted Aug 4, 2012, 11:03 AM
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i cant believe the govt. has allowed this to get dragged on for 3 years now. all because of 3 families want to keep their old run down homes. they were offered brand new homes and/or compensation for their old homes. this really shows the bureaucracy and inefficiency in taiwanese govt. even in the u.s. where it's a democracy, there is still a law called imminent domain where govt. or private enterprise has the right to take over property if it's for the good of the public as long as the owners are fairly compensated. if owners dont move out then the law allows forced removal. and in urban renewal projects it is for the good of the public. without urban renewal, taiwan will continue to look like a third world country. the buildings knocked down were not historical in any way and has no worthy architectural value. they were old ugly dirty cement blocks which dominate most of taiwan's landscape. this it totally the govt's fault. all parties suffered - the homeowners for the renewal, the homeowners against the renewal, and the developers.
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Old Posted Aug 4, 2012, 3:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalifese View Post
i cant believe the govt. has allowed this to get dragged on for 3 years now. all because of 3 families want to keep their old run down homes. they were offered brand new homes and/or compensation for their old homes. this really shows the bureaucracy and inefficiency in taiwanese govt. even in the u.s. where it's a democracy, there is still a law called imminent domain where govt. or private enterprise has the right to take over property if it's for the good of the public as long as the owners are fairly compensated. if owners dont move out then the law allows forced removal. and in urban renewal projects it is for the good of the public. without urban renewal, taiwan will continue to look like a third world country. the buildings knocked down were not historical in any way and has no worthy architectural value. they were old ugly dirty cement blocks which dominate most of taiwan's landscape. this it totally the govt's fault. all parties suffered - the homeowners for the renewal, the homeowners against the renewal, and the developers.
I don't really care what US did for urban redevelopment that you are talking about. It is not going to solve the problem for sure. Because, that is exactly what Taipei city government tried to do in 1st place. They wanted to demolish whole building according the law and let it moved forward. Then this government has been smashed by angry public, media and opposition.

Urban Redevelopment is fortunate to become victim of anti-commercial, anti-business, anti-rich and anti-government which building up in these years. Give time for government to rethink entire system. Why urban redevelopment has such poor reputation in Taipei? Why general public cannot feel the goods of urban redevelopment?
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Old Posted Sep 3, 2012, 6:42 PM
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Taipei Urban Renewal Project - gianni botsford

seems like he's doing a lot of work in taiwan. check out the taiwan residences thread section in the cityscape section.

http://www.giannibotsford.com/projec...ation-project/
















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Old Posted Apr 27, 2013, 5:11 AM
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Urban Renewal Act unconstitutional: court

By Lauly Li ,The China Post
April 27, 2013, 12:06 am TWN


TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Justices of the Constitutional Court yesterday released a constitutional interpretation regarding the controversial Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) renewal project, with the court deciding that three articles of the Urban Renewal Act violate the Constitution, and should be reviewed and amended within one year.


The controversial urban renewal project in Shihlin District made national headlines last year when two homes within the project's scope were demolished against the wishes of the owners, the Wang family.

After the two homes were razed by the city government, the Wang family applied for a constitutional interpretation of the Urban Renewal Act.

Thomas Chan (詹順貴), the Wang family's attorney, yesterday said the Wangs have agreed to take part in the negotiations held by the Taipei City Government, adding that if the participants of the project cannot reach a consensus through negotiations, the Wang family does not rule out the possibility of appealing based on the constitutional interpretation.

Taipei City Urban Regeneration Office Director Lin Chung-chieh (林崇傑) said the Urban Renewal Act was established by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), and that Taipei City Government followed government regulations while handling the Wenlin Yuan project.

Lin said the city government will request instructions from the MOI regarding any urban renewal project. Lin added that he hopes the constitutional interpretation of the act will not interfere with the negotiation progress of the Wenlin Yuan project.

The newly named Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-e (張金鶚) has been working on establishing a negotiation team since early April for the long-stalled Wenlin Yuan renewal project.

The six-person negotiation team formed by experts from various fields will hold respective meetings with the Wang family, Leyoung Construction Corp. (樂揚建設), the consortium responsible for the Wenlin Yuan project, and members of the 36 households that support the project. The team will also discuss the project's scope.

The deputy mayor vowed to offer a proposed solution in three months and solve the Wenlin Yuan project within Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin's (郝龍斌) current term.


Constitutional Interpretation

According to Constitutional Interpretation No. 709, the Urban Renewal Act does not allow for local governments to form an urban renewal review team for specific renewal project nor does it ensure participants have the opportunity to speak their opinions.

The current Urban Renewal Act requires that only 10 percent of participants living within the development area agree on a renewal project for the project proposal to be approved by the local government.

The Constitutional Court believes this ratio of support is too low.

The court also ruled that the act does not give permission for local governments to hold hearings publicly nor inform any participant that lives within the project scope before approving the renewal project, which violates administrative procedures and the spirit of the Constitution, which aims to protect individuals' property rights and freedom of residence.
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